Will my bread dough rise in the fridge?

The answer to whether your bread dough will rise in the fridge is yes, and it often makes sense to consider the fridge as your friend when you are making bread.

Testing for proof

What is the benefit of putting my bread dough in the fridge?

Your dough will rise in the fridge and it can be a huge help as it makes bread making easy to fit into your day. When you put your dough in the fridge it slows the yeast activity down. It takes ten times longer for dough to rise in the fridge than it does at room temperature. This means you can put your dough in the fridge overnight or whilst you are at work and come back to it when you are ready.

Putting your dough, whether yeasted or sourdough, in the fridge will help it to develop a better flavour and texture. The longer the dough ferments the more chance of bacteria and enzymes getting to work and unlocking the flavours in the wheat. Slowing fermentation down by using the fridge helps to give the dough time to develop more complex flavours without over proving, as it would at room temperature.

When to use the fridge

If you are making a dough with commercial yeast (easy bake/ fast action/ instant, active dried or fresh) you can mix your dough and develop it using the stretch and fold method or by kneading or using your stand mixer and then pop it in the fridge to rise slowly. It will take several hours to rise and become full of honeycomb bubbles. If it fits better with your day ahead you can leave your dough to ferment at room temperature for an hour or two, then when its risen and full of air, shape it and pop it the fridge to do its second rise as a shaped loaf. You can then preheat the oven and bake the loaf straight from the fridge. Baking your loaf from cold can help improve oven spring.

If you are making a sourdough remember that the wild yeast is slower than commercial yeast to work on rising the dough. It helps to keep the dough at room temperature for the first few hours so that the yeast has time to work before you cool it down. I tend to let my sourdough rise for the first time at room temperature, shape it, leave it at room temperature for about an hour and then pop in the fridge overnight. In the morning I check if it is ready to bake straight away or if it needs more time to prove at room temperature. Every baker finds a schedule or method that works for them though so experiment with what works best for you.

Tips for using the fridge

Remember that the larger the piece of dough the longer it takes to cool down and warm back up again.

If I intend to put my yeasted dough in the fridge overnight I always use cool water to mix it in the first place. This way I can be sure that it will develop slowly from the start and not over-ferment in the fridge overnight. If it does rise too much overnight after it had been shaped the previous evening I just reshape it and wait for it to rise again. If I am making sourdough and intend to put it in the fridge then I use warm water to make sure the yeast gets going and fermentation has a head start before I put it in the fridge.

Cover your dough well before putting it in the fridge to stop a crust forming. I use oiled clingfilm, or a large plastic bag inflated over the top, or a larger bowl over the top to make sure that the crust stays moist in the dry atmosphere of the fridge.

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1 thought on “Will my bread dough rise in the fridge?”

  1. Prepped loaves this time with starter I fed 3 times over 2 days The stretch was amazing. I shape from the fridge the next morning with inverted bowl as oven comes up to 500 degrees and loaves resting on cornmeal on breadboard. I find the baking as challenging as the prep. Anyways, so rewarding!

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